Mu Sigma Phi Sorority

The first medical sorority in the Philippines and in Asia.
An unbroken line of over a thousand lady doctors from the University of the Philippines Manila.

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Perla D. Santos-Ocampo, μΣΦ '55


In the world of medicine, the acronym PSO is enough to star-struck anyone. Dr. Perla D. Santos Ocampo, or PSO for short, is an excellent clinician, a prolific writer and researcher, an inspiring teacher, a trailblazing leader, a children’s health advocate but above all, a dedicated and loving mother.

PSO obtained her degree from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1955 and then trained in pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Unlike others who decided to train abroad and eventually practice there, PSO chose to go back to the Philippines and share here what she learned during her training in the US. Upon returning, PSO became a faculty member of the UPCM and a consultant at the University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital UP-(PGH).

Early on, she was already able to leave her mark in the world of medicine when she established the Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (PSDBP) in an effort to promote the advancement of developmental pediatrics in the country. In 1987, she established the first fellowship program at the UP-PGH and was then elected as its first president. This program provided training for most of the sub-specialists in pediatrics in the country. PSO also had the chance to be the chair of the Department of Pediatrics. During that time, PSO founded the School for Chronically-Ill Children and the Multidisciplinary Child and Adolescent Unit at the UP-PGH; these continue to provide education for children who are in the hospital due to chronic illnesses up to this day. Her innovativeness and leadership coupled with her willingness to share knowledge and mentor younger physicians prove to be the perfect combination for an inspiring and well-loved teacher.

PSO also became the UP Manila (UPM) Chancellor, the second of only so far two lady chancellors of UPM. Under her leadership, the National Institutes of Health, the National Graduate School for the Health Sciences, and the National Telehealth Center were established. Her leadership went beyond the university as she has become the head of various societies throughout her career. To this day, PSO is still serves as president emeritus of the Philippine Pediatric Society, the International Pediatric Association, and chair of the Medical Association of the Southeast Asian Nations.  

PSO is also well-known for her research work which aims to better the health status of children in the country. She is, no doubt, an expert on children, especially on nutrition and diarrhea. So far, she has written more than 10 monographs, more than 10 books, more than 25 chapters in three pediatrics books, and attended more than 150 conferences as a delegate, speaker or chairperson here and abroad on various topics in pediatrics. More than the numbers, however, the more important fruits of her labor is the development of a so-called “super oral rehydrating solution” for diarrhea; the development of policies to address issues related to diarrhea by the Department of Health; and the rational management of nutritional problems of children. She has also been a much sought-after clinician. What sets her apart from other physicians is that aside from the excellent clinical knowledge and skills, she also has a heart and genuine concern for her patients.

Dr. Perla D. Santos Ocampo’s contributions to the field of medicine and health care have not been left unrecognized and has so far received the following awards: World Leader in Pediatrics from the International Congress of Tropical Pediatrics; Outstanding Pediatrician of Asia during the 6th Asian Congress of Pediatrics in Tokyo; one of the Ten Outstanding Woman in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in 1974; Philippine Medical Association Distinguished Service Award; The Outstanding Filipino Award for Medicine; Distinguished Alumna by UP and the UP Medical Alumni Association; member of the National Academy of Science and Technology. The latest addition to her list of achievements is the conferment of the National Scientist Award by former President Macapagal-Arroyo for her contributions to the field of pediatrics. 

Despite her laurels as a successful physician, researcher and teacher, she is most proud to be a successful mother with a happy home. PSO is married to an accomplished anesthesiologist, Dr. Carlomagno Santos Ocampo, with whom she has three children, all of which are now accomplished physicians themselves. However, Carlo, Cynthia and Sylvia are not the only children of PSO. Considering her passion to ensure that Filipino children are taken care of, PSO could be considered as a mother of all Filipino children, especially those whose lives have been lengthened and/or improved through her care as their pediatrician and through her efforts to deliver better quality health care for children.